Wanting to Learn More

When it came time to find an internship that Kacey Klemesrud felt would give her additional large animal experience, an opportunity to work with swine was the perfect fit.

Growing up, she showed pigs at local 4-H and county fair competitions. Despite that, Klemesrud’s experience with the swine industry was limited.

“The swine industry was an important part of my family’s history (her grandfather raised pigs in northern Iowa for many years), and I wanted to be a part of it,” the second-year veterinary student said.

So, when an internship opportunity with Iowa State’s Swine Medicine Education Center (SMEC) was offered, she jumped at it.

“I wanted an opportunity in which I didn’t have to start as an expert – I just wanted to learn more,” Klemesrud said.

Learn more she has. This summer Klemesrud is participating in the Swine Medicine Applied Research Internship (SMARI). She is one of three veterinary students in the program where each student is responsible for their own research project, but also assists the other students with additional projects. The interns work under post-doctoral veterinarians, who guide the students as they tackle their projects.

“One of my favorite things about this internship is how dedicated the SMEC staff is to helping students learn through hands-on opportunities,” she said.

Klemesrud’s research is focusing on the effectiveness of antibiotic use in the swine industry. In recent years, there has been a strong push to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock and Klemesrud’s study is looking to collect data how the antibiotics given at castration and tail-docking effect the health and well-being of piglets.

While Klemesrud’s study involves working with 960 piglets, the internship has allowed her to dive into many stages of the swine industry, such as breeding, gestation, growing and finishing. Other students’ projects include looking for anatomical sites on a pig that will work best for transdermal absorption of drugs and another looks at the impact of synthetic boar pheromones on sow conception rates.

Regardless of the final results of the study, Klemesrud is certain on at least one thing from the experience.

“I came into this summer without much knowledge of the swine industry,” she said. “But I now feel comfortable talking with anyone in the industry.

“The internship has opened my eyes to the opportunities available to veterinarians in the swine industry that I didn’t know existed before.”